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Sleepless in the grocery store

Consumers are turning to grocers in their ongoing quest for more shut-eye
food for sleep
A recent report found that women rated lack of sleep as well as tiredness and lack of energy as bigger concerns then men.

When it comes to the health and wellness goals of Canadians these days, better sleep is a top concern, right along with eating healthier, increasing energy, and reducing stress. According to this year’s Health & Wellness in Canada report, released earlier this year by Pearl Strategy and Innovation Design, 90% of Canadians said they want to improve sleep, compared to 84% in 2020.

Women rated lack of sleep as well as tiredness and lack of energy as bigger concerns then men, and across Canada these concerns were highest in Ontario. The report also showed that younger generations (millennials and gen Zs) were most focused on improving sleep and health outcomes. In fact, concern around lack of sleep was rated highest by millennials at 64%, while gen Zs’ concerns around tiredness and lack of energy were highest.

READ: Consumers are turning to grocery retailers as key allies in healthy living

Digs Dorfman, CEO of The Sweet Potato in Toronto, says these survey results don’t surprise him. “The rise in property prices and disparity in income levels has made it tougher than ever for younger people to succeed and feel secure,” he says. “If you’re a bit older and have had trouble sleeping for some time, you may have just accepted that instead of looking for solutions – plus people need less sleep as they age.”

The grocer says his team is certainly noticing questions from customers about how to improve sleep in multiple departments across a wide range of demographics. “The big surprise to me was the number of customers who have asked about sleep advice in our produce department,” he says.

Sweet Potato staff often advise customers to gently steam vegetables to retain their magnesium which is good for sleep. Cherries are also a great natural sleep aide, when in season. “They’re full of melatonin and can give you a peaceful, restful sleep if eaten after a nice meal,” says Dorfman. (Cherry juice, in particular, has grown in popularity thanks to the “sleepy girl mocktail” recipe that has taken over TikTok).

Natural sleep remedies are also the grocer’s best-selling sub-category in the supplements department, which fields the most questions around sleep aides. “We carry a lot of different options because not everything is going to work for everyone,” says Dorfman. “There are some blended herbal options, as well as melatonin and various types of magnesium, to name a few.”

Gina Nagel, holistic nutritionist and events coordinator for Nature's Emporium in Ontario, says she is also not surprised by this growing awareness around the importance of sleep for overall health and well-being.

In particular she notes the trend around women ages 35-45 seeking advice on how to get a restful sleep and “quiet racing thoughts.” She says shoppers are concerned about using sleep aides that may cause dependability. “[They] don’t want anything that will make them feel groggy in the mornings.”

All three Nature’s locations have holistic nutritionists available to answer questions and provide advice on how to improve sleep, including things to try at home and recommendations on supplements based on clients’ needs.

Nagel points to a wide range of sleep-enhancing products at Nature’s stores too, including fresh organic greens and fair-trade dark chocolate, which she says are both rich in magnesium that help with relaxation and promote sleep. She also points to organic teas, bath products and supplements such as L-Theanine, Gaba and Melatonin.

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